CAST, a non-profit education research and development organization in Boston, Massachusetts, in the US, has a mission to expand learning opportunities for all individuals. CAST hopes to do this through improving and spreading knowledge about Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Their website includes guidelines for implementing UDL and an informative video about its basic principles.
All groups of students are diverse, as the way individuals learn is very unique. Everyone has different backgrounds, strengths, needs, and interests. UDL is an approach to curriculum intended to minimize barriers and maximize learning. Universal design in the physical environment is based on the idea that if you design for those in the margins, what you make will work better for everyone; this concept also applies to UDL. When designing learning goals, teaching methods, instructional materials, and assessments, educators can identify potential barriers and find ways to work around them. For example, a teacher might use of multiple types of media to present new information, or provide different ways for students to showcase their knowledge.
Curriculum needs to allow students to acquire skills and enthusiasm for learning as well as knowledge. The UDL guidelines encompass three areas of learning: engagement, representation, and action and expression. These suggestions can be applied to many different learning environments. The video and guidelines available on the CAST site are just an introduction to the potential of UDL to transform classrooms and the learning experiences of students of all abilities.
To read the guidelines on Universal Design for Learning and view the video, visit the website here.